It is the end of the year and I want you to consider this as my awkward gift for each month you have used in 2013. Going through the year, I have reflected more on my mistakes in other for me to be better in business. I will share with you today some of these mistakes and how to possibly avoid them. Mistakes are part of business, the more mistakes you make the more solutions you should have. I referred to these mistakes as deadly sins because if you don’t avoid them with time, you are running the risk of losing out totally in business. A wise man once said that “if you know yourself and your sins, the battle is over”. If you choose to win.
Sin #1) Failing to come up with fresh Ideas
I know the rate at which business owners’ stick to an idea and a particular way of doing things because it is the old and normal way of doing it. It is deteriorating mindset to believe your business will live after you if you carry such mindset. Ideas are free of charge and it is only wise to keep supplying your business with fresh ideas as time runs by. Things are changing, so also demands and customers. New ideas are solutions to new problems as they arise; try not to commit this sin. It is deadly.
Sin #2) Failing to Test:
If you don’t test prices, headlines, advertising copy, radio/TV spots and verbal sales messages, you won’t know what the market wants, or what it will pay. You’re just guessing – which can be disastrous. Tomorrow, I urge you to have your salespeople try different pitches and differently priced offers, then review how they do, one test against the other. If you find a new twist that out closes an old one by 25% – 50%, have all your reps use that approach until you can test and compare even more – and potentially better – possibilities!
Sin #3) Running Institutional Ads:
Institutional ads are a sheer waste of money, because they don’t direct the reader, viewer or listener to any intelligent action or buying decision. Direct response advertising, on the other hand, makes a complete case for the company, product or service. It overcomes sales objections. It answers all major questions. And it promises results, backing up the promise with a risk-free warranty or money-back guarantee.
Sin #4) Not Stressing Uniqueness.
Most successful businesses and professional practices are built around a single USP, or “Unique Selling Proposition.” It might be reliable post-purchase service, superfast delivery, convenient hours – or something else. Think about what it is that sets you apart from your competitors, and then make that “USP” the engine that drives all of your marketing and advertising efforts.
Sin #5) Not Having Back-End Sales.
The back end is vital to any business. If you can induce new customers/clients/patients to buy a similar product or service from you within 45 days, you double the value of the customer. All of a sudden you’re far into profit, instead of what initially was probably a net loss.
Sin #6) Failing to Address Customer Needs.
By communicating with your customers (and making sure that your employees do the same thing), find out what it is that people need/want most – and then make sure you satisfy that need. If it’s the lowest possible price, give them that. If you don’t genuinely fill the needs you purport to fill, your customers will soon abandon you.
Sin #7) Failing to Educate.
Your customers and prospects won’t understand or appreciate a bargain, service or benefit unless you point it out to them. Example: If you’re overstocked with widgets, advertise that fact (admitting your mistake) and then explain why the widgets are valuable, how they can be used, and how you are willing to let them go at a major market discount to 1) either your best customers, or 2) first-time customers, or 3) people who are willing to make an additional purchase.
Sin #8) Making Customers Work Too Hard.
How easy is it to find things in your store? How helpful are your telephone operators when a customer, client or patient calls with a question? How easy is it to order from your business by mail?
Sin #9) Failing to Explain Why.
Whenever you make an offer, ask for a sale, run an ad, or offer a product or service for sale at a specific price, always explain why. For example, why can your sales people handle my purchase better than someone else? Why can you beat your competitors on price? The more believable and plausible your reasons, the more compelled I will be to favor you with my patronage.
Sin #10) Giving Up Too Soon on What Works.
I find that business people get tired of their advertising and marketing campaigns long before the marketplace tires of them. If you fell into this business “sin,” you might call off an advertising campaign that was working and replace it with something that hadn’t proved itself and, in fact, might flop. Test different concepts and approaches, but never abandon your “control” (i.e., best performer) until you find something that pulls better.
Sin #11) Forgetting Who Your Customer Is.
Always send your sales messages to the people who are your primary prospects. If you want to reach people over 45, for example, your ad’s headline should say, “If you are 45 or over…etc.” Scrupulously avoid headlines and ads that are nonspecific or abstract. Carefully select your target market; it makes your marketing strategic.
Sin #12) Forgetting Who You Are.
Finally, we are here! Who are you before you started business? Who are you now? Don’t make me ask that ‘who will you be after businesses. You have to keep checking your strength and your weakness when it comes to your business. Your success depends on it.
Stay away from sins, they are deadly. And avoiding them can make your business almost divinely profitable. Enjoy the New Year.